In the beginning there was no plan for any kind of Martinique road trip in this visit. Initially, we’d decided to go car-less for our three week stay in Martinique. The plan was to spend our time in the main city of Fort-de-France, living as much like locals as we could, using our time on foot explore what the town had to offer, and catch the occasional ferry or bus to see some other parts of the island.
After just a few days in Fort-de-France we quickly realised that a car is by far the best way to see Martinique, that the roads are some of the best in the Caribbean, and that car rental is simple and affordable (not to mention that driving a car seems to be what living like a local is all about, judging by the relentless traffic jams). This led to testing the waters with a day-long rental car and a quick search of what interesting stops lay toward the South end of the island.
Ferry to Pointe du Bout
To begin our Martinique road trip we had to pick up a rental car, choosing Europcar’s Trois Ilets Pointe Du Bout Car Rental in the town of Pointe du Bout, a short ferry ride away from the main Martinique pier. The Vedette Tropicales ferry from fort-de-france was an easy € 2.80 one way, and at the time of writing was running from 5.30 am to 7 pm during the week (with limited hours on Saturday and bad luck if you wanted to travel Sundays, much like other parts of France)
Picking up the rental car was straight forward, and quickly we were on our way, packed into the tiniest Renault Clio, the same car it appears all tourists are issued with upon renting a car in Martinique (or so we eventually decided after how many identical rental vehicles we encountered along the way)
Quick stop in L’Anse à l’Âne
After a scenic jaunt over the hill from pointe du bout we quickly realised that in all the excitement of boats and rental cars, we’d completely forgotten breakfast. Luckily, we were swooping down into the small beach town of L’Anse à l’Âne and in true French style, there was a roadside boulangerie (Pom’Kanel) selling breakfast breads and tiny paper cups of espresso. Somewhat revived after a quick stroll in the sand and a touch of caffeine, we decided not to stop any longer in this picturesque little town – we had another goal in mind, and that was the Robinson Crusoe beach of l’anse noire.
L’anse dufour and l’anse noire
Tracking around the Les Anses-d’Arlet peninsula for another 15-20 minutes leads you to the turnoff for L’anse dufour and l’anse noire. Two neighbouring bays – once deep volcanic black sand and the other pristine white sand, an impressive contrast and my two favourite beaches of our time in Martinique.
After driving through jungly hillside for a while, we happened upon a long string of matching white clios all parked down the roadside – a telltale sign of tourists and a hint we’d arrived at the right place. These beaches are only easy enough to reach with a vehicle, so they are much less crowded. However, they are my favourite beaches I encountered in Martinique and it was clear this day a handful of others felt the same.
Parking on the roadside we meandered down past blossoming bougainvillea and hummingbirds, looking out over the pristine white sand and coconut palms of l’anse dufour. A couple of beach cafes and guesthouses gave way to a small collection of sunbathing tourists and lapping, turquoise water.
Continuing up the hill a little and down a large flight of concrete steps we came upon l’anse noir, the reason for this scenic detour. A long jetty protruded out from wild, dark sands. Large trees shaded much of the beach and tiny crabs skuttered about. A small shack rented kayaks and snorkeling masks by the hour, and offered to look after our bags while we swam.
If I come back to Martinique anytime soon, this is where I’d choose to park myself.
L’anse noir is one of the only spots where you can find sea turtles just about any day of the year, it’s simply a matter of renting a mask by the hour from the kayak and mask rental down on the beach. From there, swim out to the middle of the bay and voila – sea turtles.
The Martinique Road Trip Continues: Down Le Diamant Coastline
After leaving l’anse noire with many promises to return someday, we hopped back into our tiny rental car and plowed on back up through the jungley hillside. From here we looped around les Anses-d’Arlet and spent some time cruising down the coastal roads of le Diamant, Sainte-Luce and Le Marin.
I had saved a number of eateries on my map along the way – Pizzbook for it’s island-famous pizzas, Hakuna Matata and Case Coco. Unfortunately due to it being a Monday afternoon, none of my choices were open – some due to the time, most due to it being a Monday. Such is life on a tiny French Island.
The roads became winder and less windy, and the beaches became more open with surf and less calm like where we’d arrived from. This whole road is lined with golden sand and crashing waves and coconut groves.
Sunset in Sainte-Anne
Sainte-Anne is considered by many the region with Martinique’s most beautiful beaches. We arrived to Plage des Salines in time to settle into the sand and catch a little of the late afternoon sunset before the sky was overtaken with the most beautiful sunsets. It has been the most wonderful road trip through magnificent Martinique, and we were rewarded with surreal views to end the day before finding our way back up to Fort-de-France for the night.
Martinique Road Trip Itinerary
From: Fort-de-france To: Plage des Salines, Sante-anne.
Stopped in at: Pointe du Bout (Les Trois-Îlets), L’Anse à l’Âne (Les Trois-Îlets), L’anse dufour and l’anse noire (Les Anses-d’Arlet), Le Diamant (Le Diamant), Plage de Pointe Marin (Sainte-Anne), Plage des Salines (Sainte-Anne)
Completed in: One day, but you could spend a few nights down at Sainte-Anne before returning.
Leaving from Pointe du Bout, an easy ferry trip from Fort-de-France and plenty of car rental spots to pick up a vehicle
Breakfast: Pointe du Bout, before you head off on your adventure has a few great breakfast restaurants & coffee shops, so eat here before you go.
Morning Beach Stop: Budget most of your time for L’anse dufour and l’anse noire – these are the highlights of this road trip and it’s worth basking in the maginificence of two such different beaches right next door to one another, and spotting the sea turtles.
Lunch: Le Diamant has a stretch of well regarded restaruants and is perfectly located for a lunch stopover.
Late afternoon: Stop in at Gros Raisin in Sainte-Luce to explore a charming little Martinique town with an intensely European feel. Or carry on to Plage de Pointe Marin to relax by the waves under the coconut palms
Sunset: Plage des Salines is the famous sunset spot, so grab a blanket and find a nice spot to sit, splash about in the water & watch the magnificent sunset display